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Visit to the Androcologist
The office is spacious, airy and full of plants and sunlight, yet it has the subtle aroma of a medical office, and its usual underlying vibration of controlled stress. On the walls are half a dozen posters of young, healthy-looking men; some hold babies. All have long hair, all wear make-up and all are clean-shaven, including their arms and legs. The poster headlines read: “Your Prostate and You,” “The Importance of Yearly Penigrams and Testigrams,” “Curing Premature Ejaculation,” and “Conception Control: Your Choices.” All of the posters end with the prominent line: “Ask Your Androcologist For More Information.”
The glass and chrome coffee tables are strewn with magazines featuring glamorous yet carefully “average” men, usually posed with children, homes, or food. The most worn copies are “Men’s Day: The Sexual Potency Issue” and “Testicular Health.”
A middle-aged man, Ron Maykins, slumps listlessly in a tubular chair with a maroon plush seat. Over black gabardine trousers he wears a green, knit, low-cut blouse which shows off his hairless chest to advantage. There is a slight pouch in his trousers to accommodate a bra, which supports and makes more shapely the line of his testicles and penis. He wears understated make-up – just a touch of mascara, a little blush, and soft, peach lipstick. His nails are beautifully lacquered. He is a large man, and the seat is sized for the average woman. Still wearing his chic coat in the cool office, he is uncomfortably jammed into the chair but seems to take no notice of it. With boredom he thumbs through “Men’s Homes & Gardens.” Discretely, he tugs on his bra to make sitting a bit more comfortable.
A nervous and embarrassed 12-year old boy also waits, fidgeting. His hair sweeps his shoulders fetchingly. Wayward, curly bangs frame his face. He wears a parochial school uniform of blue skirt, blue and white blouse, white socks, blue sweater with insignia, and loafers. His skirt has a small bra pouch. He’s wishing wholeheartedly that he was a girl.
The two patients avoid looking at each other. The young and good-looking receptionist, Theodore Anndaughter, frowns at his computer. He stops typing, removes gaily-colored eyeglasses, and tries to rub the headache out of his temples without disarranging his hairdo. He just had it styled during his lunch hour and wants to get home with it intact so he can study how to make it look that good by himself. A uniformed nurse in his early twenties emerges from the back offices into the secretarial area.
“Got another headache, Teddie?” Teddie nods miserably. The nurse purses his lips in sympathy. He picks up a file, emerges into the waiting room, and bellows, “MASTER ROY ERLAND!” The fidgety boy starts, blushes. Teddie gives him a supportive look. With alacrity, Roy pulls himself out of his chair, gathers up his purse, scarf and coat, and follows the nurse out a side door. Compassion fills the eyes of the middle-aged man. Absently, he scratches at his bra.
Dr. Ann Heyward sits behind a sumptuous desk in a well-appointed office. She is in her late forties and regal. Her blond hair is close-cut, styled to reflect her professional status. In her doctor’s whites she makes a formidable figure. She is careful always to speak sincerely, never condescendingly, to what she considers the endless line of underinformed, bashful, not very intelligent, and often fearful males to whom she must cater all day. She puts on a professional smile as Roy is ushered in.
“Sit down, young man, it’s nice to meet you. Well then, Master Erland, your father tells me you had your first nocturnal emission.” Roy nods, embarrassed. “How often are you having them now?”
Roy forces himself to speak through the knot in his throat. “About two or three times a week.”
“That’s fine, that’s perfectly normal. The number can vary greatly, don’t worry about it at all. If they stop completely, or become more frequent than every other night, give me a call and we’ll check you out. Has your father bought you some night pads? Good.” She clasps her hands together in front of her and leans forward engagingly. “This is your first androcological exam? Well. First I’ll check the health of your penis, then your testes, then your prostate. I’ll explain each step as I do it, or would you rather I didn’t?”
“I’d like to know.”
“All right. I’ll meet you in the examining room. Nurse Timothy Jeff!” The nurse appears instantly at the door to lead Roy out. Perky Nurse Timothy Jeff is eager to help people get well. He has unusually short hair for a young man, but gets away with it because of the leanness of his figure – there’s no mistaking him for a woman! He is unusually ballsome and looks charming in his uniform skirt. He’s partial to red, lacy underwear. This is a new job for Timothy Jeff and he’s unsure of how far he can push things — whether or not he can undo a button or two of his uniform blouse. It would be more comfortable, certainly, but also more fun.
Timothy Jeff leads Roy rapidly down the hall. He thinks, What a beautiful boy, and so obviously scared. This must be his first time. Timothy Jeff wishes he could help Roy relax. He fervently hopes Roy is healthy.
The examination room is small, cold, windowless. It is full of equipment and anatomical posters, including one illustrating the mechanics of male orgasm.
“Just remove your skirt, panties, and bra, and lie down on the table. Leave your shoes on. Then pull this sheet up over yourself. You can put your stuff here. Doctor will be with you in a moment. Don’t worry!” With a gentle smile, the nurse leaves Roy alone.
Roy undresses fast, afraid the doctor will come back too soon and catch him half naked. Shivering with cold, he climbs up on the papered table and covers himself. He looks with anxiety at the latex glove dispenser, standing lamp, containers of ointments, specimen jars and posters.
Dr. Ann knocks on the door, then opens it and comes right in. She goes straight to the sink to scrub up. Nurse Timothy Jeff follows her in. He pulls stirrups up from the sides of the examining table and guides Roy’s feet into them.
“Just put your feet here. Now slide down to the bottom of the table as far as you can. That’s good.” He repositions the sheet over the now doubled-up Roy, and makes other preparations. The doctor smacks her hands into latex gloves and walks briskly over to Roy, being careful to make eye contact. She puts a comforting hand on Roy’s arm.
“We’ll start by examining your penis. I need to make sure it’s perfectly healthy, and the best way to do that is to palpate it, which means I’m going to put a little pressure on it, starting at the tip and working up. Now, it’s natural for many boys, during this kind of exam, to get an erection, so if this happens to you, just relax and let it happen.” Dr. Ann squeezes Roy’s arm reassuringly and moves to the end of the examining table. She pulls the lamp closer and turns it on, brightly illuminating the lower half of Roy’s body. Dr. Ann ducks her head under the sheet to peer at Roy’s genitals. She begins the examination. Nurse Timothy Jeff watches avidly — he hopes to become Head Nurse some day. Roy closes his eyes tightly.
Dr. Ann speaks to Roy from behind the sheet. “It’s actually a good thing if you get an erection, because then I’ll encourage it a little bit until you ejaculate, and we’ll be able to test your ejaculate for sperm count and do other lab tests on it to make sure you’re as healthy as you can be. Are you with me so far?” She pokes her head up to look at Roy. He looks shocked, despite his closed eyes. Dr. Ann has seen it before; she keeps right on examining and explaining.
“I’ll also test your testes —” she loves that phrase — “by palpation, either before or after an erection, should you get one. During the testes check I’ll rest your penis in a speculum, which will keep it up and away from your testicles.” Dr. Ann continues to palpate. Roy is now extremely embarrassed. The doctor, without looking up or stopping, tries to distract him. “So, what school do you go to, Master Erland?” Roy doesn’t answer. He can barely hear her through the humming numbness in his head. “Is there a particular hobby you enjoy?” Roy begins to feel warm. His breath becomes audible to the doctor and nurse. With all his 12-year old strength, Roy fights the erection.
Dr. Ann keeps working. “Good, you’re doing just fine. Just let it happen, Master Erland, don’t be shy.” She begins on a new section of Roy’s penis. “Do you have a girlfriend, yet, Master Erland?” She continues to make small talk as she works. Though Roy struggles mightily, he can’t help himself. He begins to pant.
Dr. Ann says matter-of-factly, “Nurse, are you ready?”
“Yes, Dr. Ann!”
“Excellent, Master Erland, it looks like we’re going to be able to check your ejaculate. I’m just going to help you along a little now, as I put a container over your penis.” The nurse hands her a bag-like cup. As it touches him, Roy yelps. He shudders with an orgasm.
“Very good. Nurse, mark this for the lab.” Nurse Timothy Jeff takes the cup and leaves. Dr. Ann wipes off Roy. “I’ll just get a speculum now for the testes examin—oh, we seem to be out. Excuse me for just a moment.” She leaves. Roy waits in the stirrups. He tries not to cry.
In the waiting room, a second middle-aged man has stuffed himself into a chair next to Ron. Acquaintances for years, they chatter nonstop. Teddie eavesdrops with interest. The new patient, Glen Seidman, has slipped off his high heels and is rubbing a sore big toe.
“So I said, can’t you just take the lump? Why do you have to take the whole testicle? And she says she wants to take both testicles, that it’s too great a risk to my health!”
“God, they’re all like that.” Ron freshens his gleaming lipstick.
“Then she says, ‘Glennie —’ She calls me Glennie! — ‘you’re an older man, you’re not going to have more children, are you?’ I couldn’t believe it!”
“My friend Jimmie, testicular cancer runs in his family, his doctor suggested removing them before he gets cancer, so he won’t get it!”
“My God, Ron, did he do it?”
“He’s going to. He says the prostheses make it impossible for people to tell they aren’t real.”
“No, he can’t have those because of the cancer history. I mean, with his clothes on, shorts or swimsuit or anything, he’ll look normal.”
“Yeah, ‘til someone wants to make love to him!”
“Well, he’ll have to hope for someone understanding.”
“How likely is that!”
“Well, there are some. My friend Stevie says his wife is just the same since his surgery as she was before.”
The phone rings, startling Teddie. He answers it. He listens for quite a while, then cuts in. “No, no, you just take one a day, from a specially marked container. They lower your sperm count to below the danger zone.”
Angry, Glenn pokes Ron, gestures towards Teddie, and grimaces. They listen.
“Actually, you can stop whenever you want. Within a few months after stopping, you’ll be fertile again.”
Ron anxiously whispers, “That’s true, isn’t it?”
Glen whispers back, “If you’re lucky.”
Teddie goes on. “Oh, nothing to really slow you down. Some men experience a bit of nausea, headaches, a little lighter beard — that’s good news, isn’t it?” Glenn scowls. Teddie, unnoticing, plunges on. “Some men get a little fuller in the breast area. Nothing to ruin your sex appeal.”
Glenn glowers. “Did you hear about Tony?” Ron nods.
With a start, Teddie realizes they can hear him. He swivels his chair around so he can’t see them, and puts more heartiness into his tone. “I can assure you that the new drugs are as good as they can possibly be—” He listens for a moment, then forces his way in again. “If you have a lot of side effects, the doctor will give you something for them.”
Glenn erupts. “We shouldn’t even be taking such dangerous drugs! And why is conception control always up to us, anyhow?”
“What I want to know is, how come abortion drugs are covered by insurance, and given out to the military for free, and we have to personally pay for potency drugs?”
“It’s not necessary for life, dear. The government doesn’t care if you can’t get it up, but if too many of our fighting women are off having babies, it’s bad for morale.”
“Why don’t they just monitor their fertility cycles?”
“Girls will be girls. You just can’t expect that of them.”
Teddie rubs his throbbing temples. “There are a few other choices for conception control. Do you want to make an appointment?” All wait, listening. “You…I…you really should discuss that with Dr. Ann.” Teddie blushes beet red. “That’s personal, really, I’m not going to talk about my personal life.” Glenn giggles.
Nurse Timothy Jeff comes in. He takes a deep breath and yells, “MR. MARGARET MAYKINS!!”
Ron can’t help but flinch. He forces his feet back into his high heels and pries himself out of the chair. He picks up his tote bag and coat. “Bye, Glenn, I’ll call you later.”
Ron follows the nurse out of the waiting room. Teddie bangs down the phone. He takes two aspirin out of a handy bottle and looks around for his coffee cup.
In the treatment room, Roy shivers and waits, still in the stirrups. He has not dared to change his position on the table. Finally, Dr. Ann comes in. “So sorry to keep you waiting. Here we are.” She flourishes a speculum at him and ducks under the sheet. Roy jerks at the touch of the frigid steel instrument. “Sorry, it’s a bit cold.” Roy squeezes his eyes tightly shut again as Dr. Ann thoroughly examines his testicles. Finally, the doctor steps away from the table. Without a word, she peels off her gloves and begins making notes on Roy’s chart. Roy takes a few deep, shaky breaths, and worries about why she doesn’t say that everything is fine. Still writing, Dr. Ann says, “Next is the prostate examination.”
Gathering the tatters of his courage, Roy manages a wavery, “Okay.”
As if by magic, the nurse appears just when needed. He smiles with a cheery, “For this you’ll need to stand up.” He removes the speculum and helps Roy out of the stirrups and off the table. Its paper crackles as Roy moves. Roy clutches his sheet in front of himself awkwardly.
“When Doctor is ready, you’ll just bend over like this.” Nurse Timothy Jeff bends Roy over. “All right?” Roy nods. Dr. Ann has finished writing. She snaps on a fresh pair of gloves. She strides over. The nurse bends Roy over, and Dr. Ann does a prostate exam. Roy groans.
“All finished. I’ll meet you in my office. We need to discuss your annual penigrams and testigrams. Nurse, will you give him some CC information?”
Already preoccupied with the next patient, the doctor walks energetically out of the room.
Nurse Timothy Jeff says, as he wipes off Roy, “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Miserable, Roy shakes his head. When the nurse stops cleaning him, he straightens up. “What are pen – penigrams?”
“Penigrams and testigrams are X-rays of your genitals, dear, to check for cancer. As soon as you’re a little older, it’s a good idea to get them done every year.” He vigorously winds fresh paper onto the treatment table.
“Do they hurt?”
“Oh, no. Just a little pressure.” He turns off the hot lamp and pushes it away from the table. He retracts the stirrups.
“What’s that other thing she said? Something see?”
“CC? That’s conception control, my boy. You’re a man, now!” With a proud smile, Nurse Timothy Jeff sweeps out of the room, bearing a tray of dirty implements.
Roy hugs his sheet closely to him.
shulamith eagle is a holistic health care practitioner living in Vermont. She has written in many genres, including travelogue, poetry, lyrics, music and plays, along with non-fiction related to health and spirituality. This story is adapted from her screenplay, Once Upon A Time.